As I write this dispatch, I'm sitting at a camp site within Glacier National Park. Dappled light is filtering in through the pines, a hammock is strung between two trunks and Matt is starting a fire on what's supposed to be the longest day of the year.
This week, we officially ticked off month one of our summer road trip. The other day, Matt was swiping through the photos on his phone, ones of our first days on the road. Up popped our hot air balloon ride in Albuquerque, our exploration of the Carlsbad Caverns. Of sand boarding down the Monahans Sand Hills and cutting the wheel at Rally Ready Driving School.
In just four short weeks, we've already been able to see and do so much. We're incredibly thankful for that. But you know what kept coming up alongside the photos? The innumerable stories of the people we've met along the way.
Here's an example.
Yesterday, after forcing ourselves out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to hike through hurricane-force winds, hail that quite literally cut our faces and a rain storm so bad it soaked through our rain jackets, we happened upon a local restaurant called Two Sisters where we parked ourselves for lunch. About halfway through my bowl of chili, a man comes up to our table and tells us he and his wife have a bet going.
"Are you guys in that big black rig out front?" he asks.
Needless to say, he won.
Fast forward a few hours later and I'm riding shotgun in the couple's RV, Betsy. Our EarthRoamer didn't meet the specified size requirements to pass through the main road in Glacier National Park, so Chris and his wife Lisa offered to take us instead. We were more than happy to oblige.
Hours went by as we stopped at various overlooks, caught sight of a mountain goat and her baby, and watched other tourists sledding down one of the park's few remaining glaciers. As they were returning us to our camp site, the sky turned a most incredible pinky-red. Right on the spot, Chris pulled over, popped open a bottle of red wine and toasted the evening with us.
And what's really crazy is that there have been dozens of other Chris and Lisas on our trip thus far: There's Dana and Craig (and we can't forget their two-year-old Landen) who shared their camp site and bison burgers with us in the Tetons.
Then there's Travis, at Pharr RVs, who geeked out over the EarthRoamer and gave us a step-stool free of charge when our steps malfunctioned. There's Dave, Shredder and Ophelia at Rally Ready who made us feel like part of the family, and countless others who have given their time, money, space and guidance to us while we've been on the road.
Perhaps the most inspiring part about this whole trip is not what you might think when you hear "we just won a summer road trip." And while the National Parks might be cool (minus this one) and the activities are really great, it's these serendipitous encounters with strangers, now friends, we've meet along the way that are making this trip so memorable.
And, in case you missed it, check out our feature in Outside Magazine where we share some tips on how to take great photos with your smartphones.